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Solving the refugee problem will take more than exposing the government's lies.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Australian Democrats’ Immigration Spokesperson

05 December 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/735

Solving the refugee problem will take more than exposing the Government’s lies Critics of the Government’s refugee policy will struggle to achieve better treatment of asylum seekers in the ongoing climate of distortion and falsehoods promulgated by the Howard Government, says Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Australian Democrats’ spokesperson on immigration.

Senator Bartlett, speaking today at the Post Election Forum on Refugee Policy - Uncovering the Lies, at the University of Technology, Sydney, said, “This forum is an important opportunity to confront the political and social implications of the Government’s continuing hard-hearted stance on refugees and asylum seekers.”

The Post Election Forum on Refugee Policy - Uncovering the Lies, organised by the Coalition for Justice for Refugees and Migrants, is endorsed by the over thirty-five refugee advocacy groups from across Australia, including the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) - UTS, Ausnews Global Network, the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, Justice for Refugees, Rural Australians for Refugees, and many other organisations nationwide.

“The Democrats have fought hard in the Parliament to protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees and, time and time again, political expediency has won out over truth and reality. Regrettably, it will be no different in the new Parliament,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The Government’s electoral win will ensure a more challenging political environment for asylum seekers and for those supporting them, particularly in the wake of international events,” Senator Bartlett said.

“It is critical for the Australian Democrats, and all refugee advocacy groups, to maintain our focus on refugees’ rights and offer positive alternatives to the Government’s stance, in spite of the climate of fear, distortions and uncertainties,” concluded Senator Bartlett.

Other speakers at today’s forum include John Robertson, Secretary, Labor Council of NSW; Dr Peter Hancock, Academic, School of Education, Australian Catholic University; and Wendy Bacon, Investigative Journalist and Academic, ACIJ - UTS. ENDS

For further information contact: Senator Andrew Bartlett on 0418 743 789